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#1
Old 01-09-2013, 10:05 AM
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Can a company deny you use of vacation time?

I know YMMV depending on state.
Let's say you work for a use it or lose it company in regards to vacation time. You apply and they repeatedly deny approval for you to take vacation. OR they approve your vacation but before you leave they say, "Sorry, big project coming up. You can't leave." so in effect you do not actually ever get vacation since on December 31 you lose all of the time. Is that legal?

Last edited by Saint Cad; 01-09-2013 at 10:09 AM.
#2
Old 01-09-2013, 10:08 AM
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In most states, yes. Companies don't have to give you any vacation at all.

Some states consider accrued vacation a type of wage and the company is required to either let you take it, or pay you the equivalent value in wages. But if it's a 'use it or lose it' state, you're probably out of luck.
#3
Old 01-09-2013, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
In most states, yes. Companies don't have to give you any vacation at all.

Some states consider accrued vacation a type of wage and the company is required to either let you take it, or pay you the equivalent value in wages. But if it's a 'use it or lose it' state, you're probably out of luck.
But for example in Colorado, while not required to give vacation a company is obligated to follow their rules if they provide vacation time. So let's say the employee handbook says I get 2 weeks paid vacation and everyone else in the company is granted 2 weeks of vacation but the company does not let me take my two weeks. Is that legal or is it unfair business practice?
#4
Old 01-09-2013, 10:24 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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I used to work for a guy that was continually denied his vacation time because he was the only one who could do his job. When he complained about it, he got fired. He sued. He won. When I knew him they owed him 7+ years in back pay and vacation time.

This was in MA, but the company was IBM.
#5
Old 01-09-2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
But for example in Colorado, while not required to give vacation a company is obligated to follow their rules if they provide vacation time. So let's say the employee handbook says I get 2 weeks paid vacation and everyone else in the company is granted 2 weeks of vacation but the company does not let me take my two weeks. Is that legal or is it unfair business practice?
From the Colorado Dept of Labor & Employment:
Quote:
Vacation Not Required
Colorado wage law does not require that vacation time be given. Colorado wage law does not require paid vacation and does not require that an employer establish a vacation policy.

Vacation Policy
An employer may establish a vacation policy in writing or by custom and practice. Employees must be made aware of the employer's policy. Employers and employees must follow established policy unless and until that policy is changed. The Division recommends that employers develop their vacation policy in consultation with legal counsel.

Vacation as Wages or Compensation
Colorado wage law provides that vacation pay, earned in accordance with the terms of any agreement, is classified as wages or compensation. If an employer provides paid vacation for an employee, the employer shall pay upon separation from employment all vacation pay earned and determinable in accordance with the terms of any agreement between the employer and the employee.

Granting of Vacation Leave
In general, the granting of vacation leave by an employer for a current employee is made pursuant to the employer's policy. The Division of Labor does not intervene in disputes involving the scheduling of vacation leave or the denial of use of vacation leave for current employees.
Emphasis added by me.
http://colorado.gov/cs/Satellite.../1248095305408

It sounds like they have to pay you out your unused vacation if you leave the company, but it doesn't sound like the state is interested in hearing about how they won't let you use any vacation as long as it is consistent with the company's policy.

Last edited by Skammer; 01-09-2013 at 10:38 AM.
#6
Old 01-09-2013, 12:17 PM
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I work for a company that has several employees similar to the situation described above that the MA guy working for IBM suffered from.

When the company denies vacation to someone here in California, if there is extra "lose it or use it" time on the books at the end of the year, the company buys it back from the employee and pays them an up-to-two-weeks amount of wages on their last paycheck of the year. I'm not sure if this is required by law or if it is something they do to make it up to the screwed employee happy. It is the only such company I have ever worked with in CA that does this, but it is also the only one where I have seen vacations denied because of projects. I have not yet seen the case where the employee had an outlay of money and was forced to cancel an already approved vacation, but I'm sure that has come up numerous times before outside my group.
#7
Old 01-09-2013, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
From the Colorado Dept of Labor & Employment: Emphasis added by me.
http://colorado.gov/cs/Satellite.../1248095305408

It sounds like they have to pay you out your unused vacation if you leave the company, but it doesn't sound like the state is interested in hearing about how they won't let you use any vacation as long as it is consistent with the company's policy.
This is common among many states that I've looked into - they generally see it as an issue of contract law (based on the employment contract). So someone denied their two weeks of vacation would pursue the issue via a lawsuit in a civil court.
#8
Old 01-09-2013, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
When the company denies vacation to someone here in California, if there is extra "lose it or use it" time on the books at the end of the year, the company buys it back from the employee and pays them an up-to-two-weeks amount of wages on their last paycheck of the year. I'm not sure if this is required by law or if it is something they do to make it up to the screwed employee happy. It is the only such company I have ever worked with in CA that does this, but it is also the only one where I have seen vacations denied because of projects. I have not yet seen the case where the employee had an outlay of money and was forced to cancel an already approved vacation, but I'm sure that has come up numerous times before outside my group.
Yes, this is required by law. California law treats vacation as a form of wages that is earned as you work and thus doesn't allow "use it or lose it" for vacation time. It does allow an employer to buy back unused vacation at the end of the year.

Cite.

Regardless of the state, I'd be pretty surprised if it was legal to have a contract that included vacation, and other employees got to take vacation, but your requests were always denied. Sounds like a breach of contract to me. The fact that you aren't required by law to get vacation doesn't matter any more than the fact that you aren't required to make more than minimum wage. If your contract says you do, then you do.
#9
Old 01-09-2013, 12:36 PM
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It's going to vary by state, but I believe if there's a written policy that you will receive vacation time, they have to allow you to take it, or pay you for the accrued time. They certainly have to pay you for accrued vacation time if you leave the company, but I think it's hazy what happens if you are fired for cause.

ETA: As others are saying above, it's a contract matter when there's a written policy.

Last edited by TriPolar; 01-09-2013 at 12:37 PM.
#10
Old 01-09-2013, 12:44 PM
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Something I learned in Financial meetings at my old company:

Accrued vacation time (earned, but not yet taken by employees) appears on the company's books as a liability or an account payable. This is why most companies no longer allow employees to roll over unused vacation time into the next year. They have to come up with additional revenue to offset the accrued payroll that's just sitting on the books, waiting for the employee to take it.

Now, if the manager won't ever approve vacation time because there is no one to cover, then I'd go crying to HR about poor management. If the manager is accountable for their department's profit vs. loss, then it's in the manager's best interests to encourage people to use their vacation time. If I had an employee who wanted two straight weeks off right in the middle of our busy season, I'd have to disapprove it. But I would offer alternatives: break up the time and take every Friday off for two months, or take only 2-3 days at a time, allow employees to pad holidays with a couple extra vacation days. Or whatever. But to obstinately refuse to allow someone any time off is counterproductive for the manager.
#11
Old 01-09-2013, 12:47 PM
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Maybe you've done this, but have you asked them when would be a good time for you to take your vacation? If you're so valuable that they can't let you go for two weeks, I don't know why they would risk your up and quitting altogether.

Out of curiosity I check my own company's written policy, and it says the following about it: "Vacation should be scheduled with your manager 30 days prior to the requested time" and "Your manager reserves the right to decline vacation requests during peak work load periods." However we definitely do not get paid out if we leave the company: "Vacations are granted, not earned or accrued. Accordingly, unless otherwise required by law, vacation time not taken when an employee leaves the Company will not be paid."

Last edited by Skammer; 01-09-2013 at 12:49 PM.
#12
Old 01-09-2013, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Maybe you've done this, but have you asked them when would be a good time for you to take your vacation? If you're so valuable that they can't let you go for two weeks, I don't know why they would risk your up and quitting altogether.
This is not my situation. The current issue for a friend is:
Requested vaction in 2012 -> denied due to project.
Not able to take vacation because others are on vacation
December 2012 -> use it or lose it but denied vacation. Don't worry, we'll make it OK next year
Currently -> Vacation approved in 2012 to meet some committments back east* then revoked yesterday because they can't be off site if someone screws up the current project like they did last Friday (NB my friend was not the screwup)

*Using the unused 2012 time
#13
Old 01-09-2013, 02:18 PM
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"Vacations are granted, not earned or accrued. Accordingly, unless otherwise required by law, vacation time not taken when an employee leaves the Company will not be paid."


How can this work? As stated, this means employer never has to "grant" paid vacation. After a year how much vacation does an employee have? None, because none is earned or accrued. Why would employer pay any vacation time if they don't have to?

And what do they mean by "vacation time not taken"? Where did that time come from?

Last edited by FrankJBN; 01-09-2013 at 02:20 PM.
#14
Old 01-09-2013, 02:29 PM
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Some of the employees at my work take a couple days off at a time. Like M and Tues. Giving a 4 day weekend. That's better than losing the time at the end of the year.

The traditional 2 week vacation is getting more rare. It's tough getting someone to cover for you that long. Plus, you know they'll be 2 weeks of work piled on your desk when you return.

I usually take 7 days (M-F and the next M, Tu). With the two weekends thats 11 days. Enough time to travel and have some fun. Later in the year I use a couple Vac days to enjoy a 4 day weekend.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-09-2013 at 02:32 PM.
#15
Old 01-09-2013, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankJBN View Post
"Vacations are granted, not earned or accrued. Accordingly, unless otherwise required by law, vacation time not taken when an employee leaves the Company will not be paid."


How can this work? As stated, this means employer never has to "grant" paid vacation. After a year how much vacation does an employee have? None, because none is earned or accrued. Why would employer pay any vacation time if they don't have to?

And what do they mean by "vacation time not taken"? Where did that time come from?
It means on your anniversary, you are granted, all at once, a block of vacation time. You do not earn or accrue it throughout the year. If you do not use ("take") your granted vacation time by your next anniversary, it is lost and you do not get paid for it (but you get a new grant for the new year).
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